Eight non-Studio Ghibli animated films to watch

What are your favorite animated films? Abducted as if by magic? Princess mononoke? My neighbor Totoro? Uh, I could see it coming. These Studio Ghibli films are masterpieces. These aren’t the only animated films, either. Crazy, right?

It’s safe to say that Ghibli is cornering the market for 90 minute escape anime that makes you feel really good at the end of it. But there are psychological heights that some Ghibli films do not reach. Below are my top picks for non-Ghibli movies. Many are quite disturbing. All of them are genius.

This article was originally published on 4/14/2017 and updated with two other films on 12/18/17 in addition to the original six.

Perfect blue

After seeing Perfect blue, I walked out to my porch, buried my head in my hands, and smoked like five cigarettes. I sat there for almost an hour. If you’re the type of person who digs Requiem for a dream, Perfect blue is in your alley. Really, Requiem director Darren Aronofsky bought the rights to Perfect blue so that he can reproduce a scene.

Perfect blue about a pop idol and her stalker. To go from average idol to famous actress, she offered to film a rape scene that could compromise her pure and sweet image. The more famous she becomes, the more borders are crossed. Eventually, the boundaries of reality itself melt away.

your name

your name is a brilliant and tender film on teens who swap their bodies. It is the highest grossing animated film of all time. And, if you’re quick, you can probably still see his American journey at your local theater.

Mitsuha, the attendant at the rural sanctuary, is fed up with her boring life. One day she screams that she wants to be a handsome boy from Tokyo. And, in her dreams, she becomes it. Every now and then her mind travels to the body of the Tokyo boy Taki, which she controls for a day. He also interacts with her and awkwardly takes on the role of a teenage girl. Soon they fall in love with each other through their interchanged lives. Then a catastrophe threatens to take everything away.

This film is a masterpiece. He goes from a sweet slice of life to a high-stakes battle for survival. You will be invested at all times.

Ghost in the shell (1995)

Skip the live action movie. The original Ghost in the shell the movie is a classic for a reason. Its world construction is superb and paints the picture of a bombed out and ecologically unstable Japanese city where any concept of “nature” is eclipsed by technology. Long, thoughtful panoramas of the set break up exciting action scenes. He has rhythm.

Protagonist Motoko has a cybernetic body, but a human brain that has been erased from his memories. She is a major in her city’s public security section and possesses combat capabilities beyond human beings. But when cyber hacker Puppet Master threatens the city, Motoko struggles to stay on mission. She and her enemy have too much in common.


Probably you have seen Akira. Even if it does, this is the kind of movie you have to watch twice. Its plot is a bit difficult to understand the first time around. And it helps that Akira has one of the best anime soundtracks in history. Its action scenes are so grotesque and so well animated that they will stay with you for years to come.

Akira is iconic. This is a teenage biker gang in 2019’s “Neo-Tokyo” (remember, it premiered in 1988). When one of the more unstable gang members develops ESP-like powers, he attempts to free Akira, a psychic force that once destroyed Tokyo. It is kept in a storage unit under the Tokyo Olympic construction site. Drunk with current. he threatens to destroy everything he has known and experienced in the process.

Psychological play

Where have you seen director Masaaki Yuasa’s animation style before? Maybe this episode of “Food Chain” from Adventure time? Or some of the more psychedelics Space dandy episodes? It is unmistakable. It mixes rudimentary character designs with real textures and rippling, eerie environments. There is nothing like it.

Psychological play talks about a loser named Nishi. One day comes across her childhood crush, who is about to get married. They go together to a bar, where the crush’s fiancée is located. There, Nishi fights with gangsters. And, after the fight, he transcends into a strange spirit world where his bodily form is liquid.

This film is an acid trip. If you’re looking for 100 minutes of unforgettable animation, there aren’t many movies that outperform Psychological play.


Paprika is not for everyone. It’s a bit difficult to understand and its animation is really busy. This is possibly my favorite animated film.

Paprika takes place in the near future, when psychologists have developed technology to capture patients’ dreams. In this way, they can modify and process their subconscious thoughts from within themselves. Paprika is a sort of dream doctor, a fun and mysterious woman who guides patients through their innermost thoughts. His practice looks promising until dream diving technology is stolen by terrorists. Then the nightmares make their way into the waking world.

You can’t beat this plot. And the animation sequences make you dream feverishly. The dialogues are fantastic and the characters are well written. My warning: you do not stray from Paprika feel awesome. You will feel disturbed, moved and inspired.

A silent voice is a film about a deaf girl and her elementary school bully trying to find common ground years after ruining each other’s lives. Trying to come to terms with each other and overcome years of guilt, the two protagonists face evil demons who end up bringing them together. A silent voice depicts the cruelty people with disabilities can face and how children can subconsciously act when they don’t understand something.

This movie is going to screw you up. Man. I cried, like, twice.

A silent voice won half a dozen “anime of the year” awards in 2017, though its hits weren’t as widely sung as your name‘s. Its animation is simply stunning. Her most climactic moment is conveyed by a spastic series of emotional vignettes, ranging from an egg yolk splashing around a bowl to Ishida’s mother with a stack of pancakes to a firework display.

In this corner of the world

The Second World War Sneaks into the mundane life of Hiroshima-born protagonist Suzu in this haunting film about managing forces beyond your control. Suzu marries a near-foreigner in a distant city and takes on wife duties to which she is not naturally accustomed. As the war escalates, Suzu’s focus shifts from mastering the kitchen to mastering rice rationing.

In this corner of the world ping-pong between slice of life and disaster film, always centered on the human victims of war. Still, it’s nice to watch. It’s whimsical, despite its stronger and more moving moments. Its animation has a vintage feel, but innovates in ways I’ve never seen before, like melting bombs in splattered paint.

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